A continuation of a short story written on the fly, entitled “The Virtuous Woman,” or “Good & Evil Take a Walk Together and Find It Strangely Pleasant.” Find Part 1 and Part 2 here.
One day, the gardener was tending to some houseplants perching above her sink when she heard a scuffle from outside. She generally tried to stay away from any scuffling that didn’t have to do with rabbits or other pests in her garden, but she was tired of ignoring the outside world.
She peeked out the panes and, to her dismay, saw a man in black grabbing a child from the middle of the road. The child shrieked and dropped her wicker basket. The man scooped her up and fled.
The gardener gasped, dropping her watering can. The metal struck the bottom of her sink with an exclamation.
All her life, she had been “pure.” But was purity really just refusing to see the evil in the world? Was it closing your eyes to the pain, staying away from the windows, ignoring anything that would get you involved?
Her lover’s words rattled around in her mind and, for perhaps the first time, she realized that there was the tiniest tinge of truth in it.
And with that . . . something thrilling rose up inside of her. It made her joints bounce with eagerness to go to action. The boldness thrust her out the door and through perfect rows of white roses, drooping larkspur, perky tulips, and pods of bees bouncing around like happy dolphins in a sea of color.
The villain put on his favorite black shirt. Black was a good color; not flashy at all. Sophisticated, mysterious. How could you say anything bad about such a color?
Then he heard a scuffle. He generally was the one causing scuffles, so the sound startled him. He peeked out his window and saw a man carrying a child with suspicious speed. The villain frowned. Yes, he reveled in darkness and general misdemeanor, but he drew the line at child-stealing.
He could stay here—he could finish combing his mustache, which was one of his house rules: never leave without a proper mustache-combing. He could get on with his morning routine (What, you didn’t think villains have a morning routine? How does one get anything done without a proper morning routine? Even Maleficent was noted for her morning cup of coffee and stretching session.). He could continue on with his life . . .
But his lover’s words came back to him. Yes, it was tinged with a rather distasteful amount of goody-two-shoe-edness and general light-heartedness . . . but maybe she had a small point.
Something rose up in him. It was a tad uncomfortable, yet the villain knew it was right. And not the kind of right he’d become accustomed to after years of sinning. It was the right right. The one he’d hidden in one of the darkest corners of his house, along with those cheap mustache combs he’d owned upon first becoming a mustache-owner.
He had to act. He flew out the door (still looking stellar and sophisticated, mind you) in pursuit of the man.
Ah, irony. I love good irony in a story, don’t you? Note its presence here. Note how the villain stands on one side, clothed in pure and utter darkness, but with the first sign of light in his eyes in years (and also a half-drooping mustache). And contrast that with the gardener standing opposite of him, her dress of the kind of white that makes you question how she hasn’t gotten a bit of chocolate or peanut butter on it yet. And then right in the middle of them stood the true villain, arms full of a child who wasn’t his.
There was a moment of confusion, then a moment of realization.
“But you—” Said the villain.
“And you—” Said the gardener.
“And I must be going,” said the child-stealer.
The villain pounced on the child-stealer with non-too-subtle blows. The gardener gracefully gathered the child into her own arms, singing lullabies and promising a happy ending. Once the child-stealer was properly subdued, the gardener and the villain took a good look at each other.
“But how did you get out?” Asked the villain.
“I made an exception,” the gardener explained. “And you? How are you out here . . . doing good?”
“Even I have standards,” the villain explained.
“Now what?” The gardener asked.
“Well . . . we should deliver this terrible man over to the authorities. And we must return the child.” Ah, this villain was a terribly clever man. “I cannot hand him over myself to the authorities since I’m . . . wanted, I suppose. But I refuse to let you escort him for fear he’d kidnap you, my love.”
“So . . .”
“So,” the villain concluded. “I suppose we just have to do this together.”
The gardener smiled. “I’d rather like that.”